Since this was our last weekend in Arkansas, we decided to bare the heat and hike Devil's Den State Park. They say getting there is half the fun. The only trail marker was at the trail head which we didn't know when we began our trek. The Ozarks are a just so breathtaking especially in the peak of Summer with 80% humidity!
Descending into the valley the striking limestone layered cliffs with erosion caves and crumbling boulders, created a serene feeling. Only after we started talking to a local hiker did we realize the trail didn't loop back up to the yellow rock cliff we sought. So we turned around and hiked back up to where the trail forked. As we walked closer to the cliff, it began to feel like a spiritual quest or it could have been the shouts of the Bible thumping group parked in the middle of the trail ahead that penetrated my sub-conscience. If you know me, you know I respect all beliefs. But, come on, when in nature commune with nature which means be quiet and observe not shatter the serenity with shouts echoing through valley! By the time we reached the car I had reached my limit with the heat. We drove to the dam where we thought we might rent a canoe (our kayak sprung a leak) but that turned out to be impossible because the dam broke. There was no water. We picnicked by the small stream and headed back to our condo on wheels. It looks like we will be heading to the Lake of the Ozarks this weekend then back to Kansas City for a couple weeks.
We settled into The Creeks Golf and RV resort in Cave Springs, AR. This is a "Crossroad" town but it had the closest and nicest RV resort to the power plant where Mike is working. Rogers, AR is only 5 minutes away with all the shopping a girl could want or need. Bentonville, home of Walmart, it about 15 minutes away. They should just change the name of the town to Walmart, AR. We didn't waste any time exploring the Ozarks.
Our first stop on Sunday was the War Eagle Mill. It is working mill so of course I had to purchase pancake mix, popcorn and locally roasted coffee beans. Then we were off spelunking at War Eagle Cavern which was one of many hide outs for Jesse James. Mike and I have been a several cave tours so we know the drill. Bring a jacket and wear hiking boots. Caves are cold, dark and wet places. Not everyone on our tour realized that prior to arriving. They struggled in their bathing suits and flip flops. Well, experience brings knowledge. Now they know. As we passed the sleeping little brown bat, Jerry, our guide, explains that this cave is closed from November to March because there are thousands of bats hibernate in this 8 mile cavern. After our tour we headed to Eureka Springs, a tourist trap of a town. I did appreciate the narrow winding streets and architecture of this old mining town. It was built up the side a of mountain. It had a slight essence of a small European "tourist" town. We had a snack and drink at the balcony of the Basin Park Hotel in downtown.
Northwest Arkansas has surprised me with its beauty. I had never been to Arkansas before but I would recommend spending some time in the Ozarks. We will be here for a couple of more weeks so we are planning more adventures. Hopefully, putting our kayak in some water!
Getting up early on a Saturday is always difficult but today was a special day. We were going to see bison in their natural habitat...the prairie! I wouldn't say that we jumped out of bed however we did rally pretty quickly to be on the road for the 2.5 hour trip. The hike starts at 10 am with or without us. We arrived at Prairie State Park, MO with time to spare. After our guide, Dana, went over some preliminary guidelines we drove to the trail head closest to where he had spotted a herd. Trail head...ha! We didn't hike on the trail long when we took the path not there! Everyone was wearing shorts! I strongly suggest long pants even in the 90+ degrees of Summer. Our legs took some furious blows from the native vegetation. With the recent storms the ground was quite soft and wet, we wore our hiking boots which kept our feet dry. A tick tried to make Mike's leg its new home but he quickly evicted it! As we trekked through the prairie we would stop to explore the plant life. The teenagers in the group really liked the blackberry bushes. They were picking them like they hadn't eaten in a week. I have to admit the snack nature provided was quite welcomed by my stomach. As we hiked to the top of a hill, they were on the other side! The moment I had been wanting for so long was really happening. These amazing animals were about 100 yards away. Using binoculars I could see the young with their light cinnamon colored fur. The adults kept them very well protected in the center of the herd. Some of the bison had not shed their winter coats yet so they looked so shaggy. The longer we stood there our eyes fixed on them the more their eyes became fixed on us. As the grazed the prairie grasses, they slowly migrated closer to us until they were about 50 yard away. We became instinctively quieter the closer they came to us. Dana said as long as their tales were just swatting flies and not pointing straight up were were okay. Just as we turned to hike back, the herd took off into a run almost parallel to our path. I understand now why they only do tours once a month. I still can't believe I hiked through original untouched prairie and stood before America's largest native animal, the bison.
When our coach part didn't show up on Friday, we decided to rent a cabin at Lake Paradise Resort. It is called the Rustic Cabin. Its moldy smell and painted pressed wood walls gives it that shanty shack feel. This is not glamping in which we signed up for on this adventure. If it weren't for the doorless bathroom, I would rather be in a tent. Shower shoes is a must have here. We scouted out some lots for when our coach gets fixed. There are possibly 3 here that would be suitable. We also drove all over the greater Kansas City area to find better RV parks. What a way to spend Independence Day. They were either booked or too far out for Mike to drive daily into the KC office. Ugh! We will continue to look tomorrow. We hope to have our home back on Monday. So now we are sitting on the porch sipping wine trying to avoid being inside and waiting for the fireworks. Just for icing on the cake, I was walking and ripped my calf muscle. I am bandaged and hobbling in pain. If it doesn't get better by Monday, I am going to the minute clinic or urgent care. The wine helps :) At least we are together. Happy Independence Day!
Mike & Kat
Kat left teaching after 18 years to travel throughout the USA with her husband, Mike, who is an engineer for a Power generation company.